For a child(ren) at risk of entering out-of-home care (OOHC), or a child(ren) currently in OOHC, exploration of possible relative placement is an extremely important process. For states to receive federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance, federal law (42 USC 617(a)(19)) requires that the SSW consider giving preference to a relative caregiver when determining placement for a child, provided that the relative caregivers meets all relevant state child protection standards.
P.L. 110.351 requires due diligence to identify and notify all adult relatives of a child within thirty (30) days of the child’s removal and of the relative’s option to become a placement resource for the child. More importantly, the child(ren) being placed are much more likely to have a significant attachment to the caregiver and other familial support as a result of being placed with a relative. The following SOP outlines the process used to explore relatives as a possible placement.
Continuous relative searches, mapping sessions with the child, and continued efforts by the private child caring (PCC) and private child placing (PCP) agencies can ensure that workers identify significant persons in the child’s life to include in visitation agreements. In addition to the reasonable efforts for continuous searches, diligent relative searches and sound visitation agreements should be made for relative caregivers. Notice should also be provided to any parent(s) of a sibling to the child to ensure that appropriate contact can be maintained during reasonable visitation per P.L. 113-183.
Continuous relative searches and engagement must continue during every OOHC consult, as new potential caregivers, or individuals who could add to a child's community, may be identified throughout the life of the case.